Tackling Business Food Waste

Kai Commitment

Associate Minister for the Environment Rachel Brooking announced today that the Kai Commitment would receive $750,000 under the Climate Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to tackle business food waste.

The Kai Commitment is a project led by the New Zealand Food Waste Champions, a charitable organisation established to progress United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 (UNSDG12.3), to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2030. The mission is to reduce food waste in New Zealand to support greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Fonterra, Countdown, Goodman Fielder, Silver Fern Farms, Foodstuffs, Nestle, and AS Wilcox & Sons are the current signatories of the Kai Commitment. These businesses are now measuring their food waste under the Kai Commitment methodology. By the end of September, they will have set food waste reduction targets and action plans to reduce their waste.

Given the scale of these businesses, the opportunities for reductions are significant. Kai Commitment will also facilitate collaborations across the supply chain to tackle food waste hotspots.

Next year Kai Commitment will release its first public report outlining progress so far and best practices for business food waste reduction in New Zealand. This partnership with the government will also enable better collaboration on climate policy by providing data and insights.

Kaitlin Dawson, the Executive Director of New Zealand Food Waste Champions, stated that in New Zealand, landfilled food waste contributes four percent of the country's total emissions and represents a lost economic opportunity of up to $3.1 billion annually. Through the Kai Commitment, Food Waste Champions hoped to collectively work on developing a food system in Aotearoa, New Zealand, that values every piece of food produced.

"We've seen globally that voluntary agreements make a meaningful impact on reducing food waste and are most successful when done with the government. The United Kingdom's equivalent agreement, the Courtauld Commitment, contributed to the UK reducing food waste by 28 percent nationally in the last decade and being on track to meet the UNSDG12.3 goal," said Dawson. 

Dawson added that with this funding from the government, Food Waste Champions could now accelerate action and upscale its programme. Food Waste Champions were looking for more food businesses to join this voluntary agreement to reduce their food waste."

Countdown's Head of Sustainability, Catherine Langabeer, said that as a food retailer, Countdown was keenly aware of its critical role in reducing its food waste and encouraging other food businesses, including many of its suppliers, to reduce theirs too. 

"We see joining Kai Commitment as a key way to support more change across the food system - bringing international best practices to New Zealand and sharing the leading innovations already taking place," said Langabeer. 

She continued that there was immense potential in this movement and that Countdown looked forward to working with other like-minded businesses and organisations to tackle one of Aotearoa's most pressing environmental issues, food waste."

Foodstuff's Waste Minimisation Manager Emma Harding said that Foodstuffs had promised to ensure all New Zealanders have access to healthy, affordable food, so more food is consumed and less food is wasted. 

"We've been on a journey for some time to reduce food waste within our business, which supports our social promises and zero food waste reduction target and joined the Kai Commitment to allow us to work alongside other business leaders, tackling this together to support a more circular food system in Aotearoa," said Harding. 

Harding said that collectively, she had a real opportunity to make a significant impact on this problematic waste stream, associated emissions, and social impacts.

Already within Foodstuffs' first year as a signatory, it has gained a greater oversight of its food waste hotspots and identified opportunities to help it along its zero-food waste journey and drive more collaboration with its suppliers."

This funding partnership with the government addresses reducing business food waste as an action under New Zealand's Emissions Reduction Plan (Action 15.1.2). Signatories pay an annual fee to participate in the Kai Commitment.